Ask Jake & Scout

Keeping Your Cat Happy Indoors

Jake and Scout Articles

Dear Jake & Scout,

My cat, "Onyx" is primarily an indoor cat, although we do allow her to venture outside for an hour or two each day. She is good about staying in our privacy fenced back yard, so we didn’t see any harm in letting her explore the outdoors from time to time. However, over the last couple of weeks, she has begun to bring us little “presents.” These gifts are of the living (or at least, once living) variety. It started with lizards and has evolved to now include a variety of birds, moles and young squirrels. The worst part of it all is that she always has to bring her prey to me – no one else! I really hate for these animals to be killed, but don’t want to take away her outdoor time all together. What do you guys suggest?

Tabby Troubles

Dear Tabby,

I can understand your concern – and disgust – those cats will eat anything! (Just kidding, cats!) You must understand that felines are predators – whether in the wild or at play in your home. That’s what hundreds of years of evolution have taught them to do. It may seem like a cruel game to you – the catching, releasing, batting, carrying it around – but to a cat, it's necessary. Cats lack the ability to kill their prey with one bite, so they have to tire them out through repetitive capture and release. This process is much easier for the cat if they bring them back to their home turf – there they have the upper hand as they know every inch of the area.

Your cat isn't intending to be a cold-hearted killer. I’m sure "Onyx" isn’t offering you these "presents" as an insult to you. By instinct, she is proud of her hunting accomplishment and wants to share it with you. Don’t scold her – she won't understand. Try putting a bell on her collar to help warn birds and small mammals of her approach. This won't work for every animal she may find in your back yard, but it will reduce the number of "casualties" and "Onyx" can still go through the motions of hunting. Be advised that bugs may become more appealing targets, so you may begin to receive those as gifts.

Read more about how to keep your cat happy with a life indoors from the Humane Society of the United States and consider taking the pledge to keep cats and wildlife safe.